Self-Publishing FAQs

Questions. When it comes to self-publishing, we’ve got a lot of them. Although I’m just scratching the surface, here are the answers to self-publishing FAQs to make writing and publishing your book easier and faster. Please ask your own questions in the comments if I don’t answer them here.

What’s the difference between traditional publishing, vanity publishing, and self-publishing?

When a book is traditionally published, the author usually gets paid an advance and royalties. The publishing house pays for editing, design, publication, and distribution. That’s the good news. The bad news is that publishing houses are trying to make money and therefore are VERY particular about who and what they will publish. It is difficult to find an agent who then hopes to place your book with a publisher. Books are often published two years after acceptance and royalty payments are small comparatively.

Vanity publishers (often now called hybrid publishers) talk about the best of both traditional publishing and self-publishing. Unfortunately, it’s the best of both worlds for them, not you. You will pay them to get your book edited, designed, and published and then they will give you a percentage of royalties all while they hold the rights to your book. Don’t give up your money and your rights.

Self-publishing is aptly named because you do it yourself, but you keep ALL of the rights and royalties when your book sells. Companies, like The Happy Self-Publisher, offer help to writers who don’t have the time, energy, or knowledge to edit, design, format and publish a book. Yes, we charge a fee for what we do, but you control the timing, price, content, and set the goals you want to reach. Once your book is in print (or your ebook is online) everything you earn in royalties is yours. If you want to change or update your book, you can do it easily.

 Self-publishing FAQs

What is print on demand publishing?

Print on demand publishing means that as one book is ordered (on Amazon, for example), one is printed. You benefit because you no longer needed to order a garage full of books. You can purchase 1, 10, 57, or 893 books to have inventory to sell at events and reorder as you need. That means you aren’t burdened with the upfront costs. Print on demand books are digitally printed and best for word-heavy books. Offset printing is best for photo/graphic-heavy books like picture or photo books. The quality of digital printing gets better every year and will undoubtedly catch up to offset sometime in the future.

Should I publish an ebook, print book, or both?

An ebook is a great option if you hope to reach a national or international audience, you don’t plan to go to book fairs or speaking tours, or your book is short. Ebooks are generally priced lower so they are more accessible to more readers. Print books are great for all of the reasons a book has always been great. Print is better if the book is heavy with graphics or photos. Photos and graphics are sometimes challenging when trying for format them for an ebook. The good thing is you don’t have to decide one over the other. Most authors opt to offer both formats to their readers to meet readers where they are and not the other way around.  It is relatively easy (and inexpensive or free) to convert to ebook format from the printed version.

What’s an ISBN?

An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number. It is a 13-digit code that uniquely identifies your book. Each edition (first, second, etc.) and format (hardcover, paperback, ebook, etc.) of your book require a separate ISBN. Some self-publishing platforms require you to purchase an ISBN for your book while others offer ISBNs for free.

Do I need a copyright?

No. And yes. According to the US Copyright Office, “Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” But if you want to file a lawsuit against someone for copyright infringement, you’ll need to register your work. Some writers do and some don’t bother with the process.

How much money can I make writing a book?

  • It all starts with the quality of your writing. Learning and practicing the craft and getting a quality editor are keys to writing books readers want to read.
  • In general, fiction generates higher revenue than nonfiction. That isn’t true in all cases. If your book fills a void in the book market, you have a better chance of standing out.
  • The royalty amount of each book plays a role in how much you make over the long run. For instance, deciding to print a book in color will either reduce your royalty or force you to increase your price to a level less attractive to buyers.
  • The time and effort you put into marketing your book will ultimately determine how much money you will make as an author. Nothing beats getting out there and getting to know and connect with readers in your niche.

how much does self-publishing cost

Do I have to be good with computers to publish a book?

If you can use a word processing like Microsoft Word, you can publish a book. There are specifications required by publishing platforms like CreateSpace and IngramSpark to format the manuscript like margins, page numbers, and table of contents. Many writers do it themselves.

Designing the book cover requires slightly more expertise. Because the cover is the showcase for your book, you want to make sure the design reflects all of the hard work you put into writing it. Still, there are many writers who design their own covers using programs like PhotoShop or InDesign.

If you are not comfortable formatting the manuscript and designing the cover, there are plenty of companies that can assist you. The Happy Self-Publisher team can give your book a professional look and eliminate the learning curve of doing it yourself. But, if you want to do it yourself, I wrote The Self-Publishing Roadmap just for you. It offers step-by-step guidance to formatting, design, and publication of your book (plus a whole lot more).

What are the most important things to know if you want to write a book?

It’s really important to know why you are writing a book and what you hope to achieve as a result of writing it. Someone who wants to scale their business approaches a book quite differently than someone who is using it as a tool to help clients through a process without any intention of selling the book. For the creative writer, an author who hopes to make a living as a writer will approach it differently than someone writing a family history.

The other important thing to know is your target audience. Knowing who will read it (hint: it’s not everyone) and what you hope they do or experience as a result of reading it sheds light on the entire writing process.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone who is just starting out on a writing journey?

Read. A lot. Read the best authors in your industry and other authors you admire. Write. Make writing a priority. Put time on your calendar each week dedicated to the craft. Whether it is 15 minutes or 5 hours, a scheduled writing time puts intention into action. Plan for tomorrow. Plan a weekend retreat to envision your business and life purpose and determine how writing a book brings life to your goals. Brainstorm ideas to flesh out the best ones and find new and exciting angles to explore. Organize your paper, scribbles, notes, websites, index cards, or random thoughts to be in one place. Arrange (and rearrange) all of it to make writing easier. Most of all, DARE to do something that takes time and effort and failure and sacrifice.

Inspirational Quote

Who is most successful writing books?

Those who understand that writing a book is a business. They understand that successful authors work hard at developing their craft, sit down often to write and promote it with intention and vigor. The authors who succeed set out goals for the book and surround themselves with the best people to make their goals come to life.

How can a publishing coach help me write my book?

If you have ever struggled with getting started, getting stuck, or knowing what to say or how to say it a publishing coach can help. A publishing coach will help you uncover why you are writing a book, who you are writing it for, and help you organize the material to have the most impact. A good coach will keep you motivated and focused on your goals for the book and set you on a path to successful publication and launch.

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Some will specialize in fiction or nonfiction (my favorite) or in a particular genre and will help you develop your unique voice and style regardless of the type of book you are writing. Ask a lot of questions and make sure your publishing coach is a good fit.

What are your questions? Leave a note in the comments section. If you’ve got a question, chances are someone else does, too.

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